Are there Limits to Human Understanding in Physics and Mathematics?

In summary: That's what dogs do. They are not cognitively or emotionally equipped to learn everything that we can learn. To assume that our brain can learn everything is pretty arrogant.I voted yes. Its my opinion that any computational thing (like a brain) will have some kind of limit. Will it be a significant limit? Who knows, or depends. However, in the distant future, the human brain (or perhaps that of species derived from current humans) may be wired in different ways, which could have different limits. Perhaps a bunch of different ways on different human derived species. On the other hand, I think human understanding is pretty wide open in its capabilities. Working out the

do you think there are biological limits to our capacity to understand physics or mathematics?

  • yes

    Votes: 7 87.5%
  • no

    Votes: 1 12.5%

  • Total voters
    8
  • #1
beamthegreat
116
7

do you think there are biological limits to our capacity to understand physics or mathematics?could it be that in the distant future, no scientific progress could be achieved using the human brain, and we have to depend on superhuman level ai to do the work for us?
 
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  • #2
A dog brain is incapable of learning everything we know, I don't know why we would assume our brain can learn everything
 
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  • #3
I voted yes.

Its my opinion that any computational thing (like a brain) will have some kind of limit.
Will it be a significant limit? Who knows, or depends.

However, in the distant future, the human brain (or perhaps that of species derived from current humans) may be wired in different ways, which could have different limits. Perhaps a bunch of different ways on different human derived species.

On the other hand, I think human understanding is pretty wide open in its capabilities.
Working out the understanding is the difficult thing.
Once that is done, great and significant advances in understanding can usually become fairly widely understood, if the concept can be "easily" transferred (communicated) to others.

This underlies some science fiction stories I have read long ago (a generation of kids grow up with a new understanding from adults and things change socially).
 
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  • #4
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  • #5
I ended up going with Yes. It seemed to reduce down to a question of whether or not you had faith in the future of science and mankind.
 
  • #6
I guess it's obvious that one human being can't know everything. One way to approach the question though is to look at human beings collectively as a model of computing, and assume our species lives on forever. Then it becomes a more interesting question to me. One question is the problem of taking information then decomposing it into smaller atomic parts that are each understandable, and then take those construct the objects one level higher (can we understand how to do that), and then keep going, making use of abstraction and treating abstract objects as black boxes. This is basically how we manage complexity and are able to build complex things like modern computers and other things. So how far can this take us?

This to me is an interesting topic for mathematics as well. Even now some people submit proofs hundreds of pages long that few can understand or determine the correctness.

As AI begins discovering things and we rely on those discoveries, it will be nice if humans can keep up and understand those discoveries too. So we will need an effective way to communicate with AI. I think, given the challenges we have communicating mathematical proofs that are 100% objectively verifiable, it would be a good start yo revolutionize how we write proofs so that others can systematically break them down, understand them, and verify them. I think we need better formalization and standards for how we construct and communicate abstractions. Once we've achieved this, it could be applied for communicating with AI probably.

If you take human beings collectively, and compare that with computers, then I think humans together might have at least the same power in trrms of computability. But one individual can only do and learn so much.

Edit; Actually it is probably the case that even an atomic object could be too large to fit in any human brain whereas a computer could scale up. At that point it is s question if multiple humans can team up to tackle a single vast atomic/non-decomposable chunk of information. Also even the parameters of one black box can be too vast.
 
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  • #7
beamthegreat said:
do you think there are biological limits to our capacity to understand physics or mathematics?

beamthegreat said:
could it be that in the distant future, no scientific progress could be achieved using the human brain,

beamthegreat said:
and we have to depend on superhuman level ai to do the work for us?
You have 3 questions here.
the first I would answer NO
The second I would answer YES
The third I would answer NO
 
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  • #8
@hutchphd, in post #4, are they Weimaraners, by any chance?
 
  • #9
256bits said:
You have 3 questions here.
the first I would answer NO
The second I would answer YES
The third I would answer NO
Very interesting approach. :smile:
 
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  • #10
I have put no because I am not sure how else the human being can evolve in terms of understanding mathematics and physics biologically. What does that mean? Bigger heads to hold a bigger brain? We are probably already there evolutionary speaking and have been for a long time.
Edit. For the second part. We already depend on computers but it is a human invention, no one gave it to us. It evolves as we evolve scientifically and technologically.
 
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  • #11
Office_Shredder said:
A dog brain is incapable of learning everything we know, I don't know why we would assume our brain can learn everything
Dogs are good at what they do, being dogs. Running round chasing cats barking and being friends with humans. They have never been any good at computers and or maths. Despite what Chad Orzel claims they have always been rubbish at quantum physics.
 
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Related to Are there Limits to Human Understanding in Physics and Mathematics?

1. What are the limits of human understanding?

The limits of human understanding refer to the boundaries of what we can comprehend and explain using our current knowledge and cognitive abilities. It is the point at which our understanding reaches its limit and we are unable to fully grasp or explain a concept or phenomenon.

2. Can we ever reach the limits of human understanding?

It is impossible to say for certain if we will ever reach the absolute limits of human understanding. As our understanding and technology continue to advance, we may be able to comprehend and explain more complex concepts. However, it is also possible that there are some things that are beyond our ability to understand.

3. How do we know when we have reached the limits of human understanding?

There are a few indicators that suggest we may have reached the limits of human understanding. These include encountering paradoxes or contradictions in our current understanding, being unable to explain certain phenomena despite our best efforts, and reaching a point where further progress seems impossible.

4. Are there certain topics or areas where our understanding is more limited?

Yes, there are certain topics or areas where our understanding is more limited. For example, the fields of quantum mechanics and consciousness are still areas of active research and there is much that we do not fully understand about them.

5. How can we push the limits of human understanding?

We can push the limits of human understanding by continuing to pursue research and advancements in various fields, constantly questioning and challenging our current understanding, and being open to new ideas and perspectives. Collaboration and interdisciplinary approaches can also help us to push the boundaries of our understanding.

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